The much-anticipated honoring of the citizens of the year went to Ron and Joan Thornburg; while Michaela Hernandez, Emily Acosta and Brooke Butler were picked as Carrot Queen, Carrot Princess and Junior Princess respectively.
“I’m humbled,” said Joan Thornburg after receiving the award. “It’s awesome to be recognized in this manner.”
For 65 years the festival has been celebrating Holtville as the carrot capital of the world. And even though China is now the biggest producer of carrots in the world, the excitement of the event continues nonetheless in the residents’ hearts.
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“We are pretty excited to be able to celebrate Holtville,” said Laura Goodsell, president of the Holtville Chamber of Commerce. “There is no place like home and for us Holtville is home.”
The Carrot Queen and her princesses agreed.
“Holtville means happiness to me,” said Hernandez, 17, adding the festival “shows how Holtville (residents) are close to one another.”
“It’s a special town to everyone here,” said Acosta, 13.
“It’s just fun,” said Butler, 10. All three thanked their friends and family for supporting them in becoming the Carrot Festival royalty of 2012.
A lot of time and a lot of volunteers went into making this (event) happen, said Goodsell, and Friday was just the beginning of an 11 day-long celebration.
But before any celebration started, a moment of silence was marked for local families who recently lost loved ones.
Once the moment of remembrance passed, Friday’s celebration started, which included a buffet and raffles.
Some of the notables present at the event were Imperial County Supervisor Ray Castillo, grandfather of this year’s Carrot Queen; El Centro City Councilwoman Cheryl Viegas-Walker and Holtville Mayor Jerry Brittsan.
“Everything is working great,” said Brittsan, who is looking forward to a “great week.”
The next Carrot Festival event coming is the music festival and car show at Hot Rods and Beer at 2 p.m. today, followed by the “No bones about it BBQ” held by the Rotary Club at Holt Park on Sunday.
Food contests, parades and carnivals are also on the horizon.
“You just got to be there,” said Thornburg. “It’s always great.”
Staff Writer Alejandro Davila can be reached at 760-337-3445 or email@example.com